Are You Allergic to Your Laundry Detergent? Here’s How to Tell

December 09, 2020 by L'Oréal
By: by L'Oréal | by L'Oréal
Are You Allergic to Your Laundry Detergent? Here’s How to Tell

Of all the things that can cause an allergic skin reaction (read: jewelry, makeup and certain skin-care ingredients), laundry detergent truthfully wasn’t something we initially considered. But after consulting with board-certified dermatologist and expert Dr. Dendy Engelman, we learned that you can, in fact, be allergic to laundry detergent and experience contact dermatitis as a result. To find out how to tell if you’re allergic to your detergent and what to do about it, keep reading.


Is Your Laundry Detergent Causing a Skin Rash?

If you’ve ever felt itchy or uncomfortable in your clothes or sheets after laundry day, your laundry detergent — fabric softener, dryer sheets, etc.— could be the culprit. “It is possible that you could be allergic to certain chemicals or a fragrance in the detergent,” says Dr. Engelman. It may also be that your washing machine is not doing a great job of rinsing your clothes, leaving product residue behind, she adds. Fortunately, there are a few ways to take care of this laundry mishap.

What to Do If You’re Allergic to Your Laundry Detergent

If your clothes have not been rinsed properly, Dr. Engelman suggests rinsing them twice to make sure all detergent residue is removed from clothing. If the irritation continues, she says that it is possible you may have contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is a skin irritation that occurs when your skin has an allergic reaction to something that it comes in contact with.

To minimize your chances of contact dermatitis, Engelman suggests using a dye-free, fragrance-free detergent and fabric softener. “Oftentimes it is scent and dye that cause the problems and the majority of laundry detergents and fabric softeners include them — even some products marketed for baby laundry,” she says. So, when shopping for a laundry detergent, fabric softener or any other laundry products for that matter, be alert and look for detergents labeled fragrance-free and dye-free. Engelman says that another great way to avoid contact dermatitis is by sticking to one detergent. “Don’t buy whatever brand is on sale,” she warns. “Changing detergents may make it harder to figure out what is causing the skin problem.”  



Photography: Chaunte Vaughn, Art Direction: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Associate Producer: Becca Solovay, Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist: Jonet Williamson, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Digital Tech: Paul Yem, Model: Camryn Herold



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